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27 May, 2008 13:13

Captured Russian sailors are safe: ship owners

Four Russian seamen captured by pirates off the coast of Somalia are safe, according to the owners of the hijacked cargo vessel. The four Russians and five Filipinos were taken hostage in neutral waters in the Gulf of Aden.

The ship's Dutch owner is negotiating for the release of its crew.

“According to our information all the Russians and Filipinos on board are safe. There is not much we can do now. We can only wait and try to get in contact with the hijackers,” Lars Walder from Reider Shipping B.V. said.

The Panama-flagged cargo ship, belonging to a Dutch company, was on its way to the Romanian port of Constanta when it was attacked in the neutral waters of the Gulf of Aden.

The ship belongs to the shipping company Dutch Reider Shipping BV, said Andrew Mwangura, director of the Seafarers Assistance Programme. He said all relatives of the captured seamen had been informed and all kinds of assistance had been offered to them.

Pirate attacks are not uncommon in east Africa. According to the International Maritime Bureau, around 30 incidents took place in the waters off Somalia last year.

It is one of the continent’s poorest countries, with piracy a lucrative business. Western companies pay sizeable ransoms for captured seamen.